Time-share sales: let others get sucked in

The Wall Street Journal, my favorite newspaper, wrote this week that Marriott International is not only halting development of all time-share projects, but will also put on sale its unsold inventory.

Having closely studied time-share business models, there are very few scenarios under which it makes any sense to buy one, even discounted.

Let me first tell you where it might make sense. When Water’s Edge in Westbrook, Ct., became a time-share, I purchased one off season week for $7,000 because the resort had a policy of permitting unlimited use by owners.

That meant that I could drive there every weekend with my children and hang out on the beach and its in-ground swimming pool. It made it worth my while whether I used the week or not.

So if you live close to a resort that has time=shares, and it permits unlimited use of its amenities for owners, and you want to use it, it might be worth checking out.

Otherwise consider these potential issues: the resort can go belly up, you might not be able to sell your share but you have to pay an ever larger maintenance fee each year, you might have to pay someone to take over your share.

Same thing with fractional ownerships and hotel condos. Stay away from them. The only people that make money are the developers and sales people. Customers get taken.

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3 Comments on "Time-share sales: let others get sucked in"

  1. Joe Borcynski | September 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm |

    You are correct in all that you say. But you haven’t gone far enough. Timeshares are HORRIBLE. In one mistake, you are damaged for the rest of your life, and beyond, if stories are to be believed. I have simply stopped paying my maintenance fees (after 25 years) at Vistana Resort in Orlando, a Sheraton project. They are dunning me. They have imposed a separate “refurbishing” fee of $2,500 for upgrading the unit, which did not need upgrading, to the best of my knowledge. They threaten to wreck my credit rating. I have tried to GIVE my timeshare away; no one will accept it. These “properties” have NO VALUE on the open market. they can only be “sold” by pros in a high-pressure, intense environment. I was told that even if I die, the developer can sue my estate for maintenance fees well into the future, as I have failed to maintain a venue (in other words, leave the timeshare to someone who can pay) to insure payment. It’s surreal.

  2. Hi George:

    I recently attended a seminar that guaranteed they would get rid of my timeshare. Their gig was to charge me $3,000.00 to tranfer title to some group who is interested in acquiring timeshares so “they could have a greater control over the units they own”. Hello!! I have tried to get rid of mine for several years with no luck. Look on e-bay, people are selling for $.25 with no takers. My resort has agreed to a “quit claim” and will charge me $75. for the paperwork. I am in the process now and hope it will end this dilemma. I have been sorely tempted to contact Blumenthal’s office regarding this whole scheme, not to mention several other companies who constantly contact me to sell my timeshare. All they want is $500. up front to list and advertise. Guess what, no sale!! George, this is an industry that has plagued the public for years and it doesn’t get any better with the continued unacceptable business practices they employ.

  3. I am not sure why there is such a problem relinquishing a timeshare, even for $0. How tight are these contracts and what kind of clause can keep you indentured even into your estate?

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